Against Forced Marriage
Megan Bourke, ACRATH’s forced marriage worker, has worked for years to try and prevent people being vulnerable to human trafficking. She joined ACRATH in October 2020 after seven years in education and advocacy as the Caritas Australia Justice Educator (Melbourne Archdiocese).
Megan is supporting the United Nations 16 days of activism against gender-based violence which begins on 25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on 10th December – Human Rights Day.
Human trafficking, a $150 billion global industry, is one of the greatest examples of violence against women and girls. Millions of women and girls are forced to marry, or to work in terrible conditions for little, or no, pay and no chance of an education.
For years Megan developed close connections with the Caritas projects that supported communities to develop jobs and programs that would help prevent people being vulnerable to human trafficking. Now she will work in schools and communities to educate people about forced marriage. She will also train front-line workers to know the correct referral pathways for people who are at risk of, or who are in, a forced marriage.
“I do believe that many of the projects Caritas supported did prevent women and girls being forced into a marriage. Relieving poverty can be like an intervention,” Megan said.
For the past eighteen months Megan has also served as the Caritas representative on the Victoria-Tasmania Catholic Modern Slavery Taskforce.
“Working with ACRATH is a neat fit for me because it takes in my passion for Catholic social justice in action. Working to combat human trafficking and forced marriage is a way to do this,” Megan said. “We are called to accompany the vulnerable and marginalised. John’s Gospel talks about people having ‘life to the full’, but human trafficking is an affront to that.”
Megan is excited by the job, but also conscious of the challenges of working in communities and in schools where the well-being of young women needs to be the highest priority.
For more 16 Days Against Gender-based Violence Campaign information and resources click here.